Avengers: Infinity War (PG)

Infinity War sure is pretty to look at and it was fun to see Tony Stark and Dr. Strange calling each other kettles or however the saying goes. But as for the actual story... I'm going to discuss something that's technically a spoiler even though everyone and their dog knows about it, but people still get pissy when you "spoil" the death of a certain airheaded moo from over twenty fucking years ago, so this is your warning I guess.

The MCU tries to make Thanos more complex and relateable than in the comic by giving him a tragic backstory, but fails because his ambitions are nonsense. In the Infinity Gauntlet comic, he was in love with Death and killed half the universe as a gift to her. Or maybe just to prove he could. In the movies he wants to cull half the universe because of resource depletion. You, uh, do know that wiping out half a population cuts productivity in half, right? Like, wiping out half the world's farmers is going to cut food production in half? And did he only wipe out half of all sapient life, or half of all life? Because wiping half of all the trees, turkeys, crops, etc. alongside the humans puts us right back where we started, doesn't it? And if it was just sapient life, are half of the cows going to starve to death because there aren't enough people around to tend to them? And let's not even get into how many people died in car accidents after half the drivers vanished, or in the middle of surgeries when half the surgeons vanished, and so on.

And of course the universe is eventually going to repopulate.

Maybe it's supposed to be stupid because he's the villain and villains are idiots. Fair enough, but don't try to make me sympathize with the dumbass.

Question: The end-credit stinger of Guardians of the Galaxy established Howard the Duck is in the MCU. Did he get Thanos-snapped?


Retro Sierra Adventure Games II: The Revenge of Leisure Suit Larry (PC)

I know the Leisure Suit Larry games were aimed at adults and King's Quest was Sierra's idea of a children's game, but holy shit, Leisure Suit Larry 2: Looking for Love in Several Wrong Places probably made more money off hint books than game sales (because, you know, pirates). I had no idea what I was even supposed to do at the start of the game, because that thing was "get a dollar bill from a pair of pants that's either hidden behind a wall or somehow part of a higgledy piggledy mess of pixels." The rest of the game was a shitshow of items hidden in places you wouldn't think to look, stuffing a bikini full of soap to make fake breasts (???), and a bit where you're on a timer to run around town gathering a bunch of shit you need for puzzles later in the game. Finally, there's a well-known bug at the final puzzle, when you have to put a paper bag into a bottle of flammable liquid to make a molotov cocktail. But when you type in "put bag in bottle" or "use bag on bottle" or anything but the EXACT wording the game expects, Larry drops the bottle because the game thinks you're using "bag" as a verb, as in "get rid of."

I could have gotten into Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of Pulsating Pectorals more if I could click on stuff. Most of the game is surprisingly forgiving for a Sierra game, and hell, I don't think it's even possible to lock your adventure because you didn't pick up a two-pixel large item from an area you can't go back to, nor do I think it's possible to die unless you mess up the copy protection or do something out-of-the-way stupid. You might not get full points, but you can bumble your way through at least. But the last portion brings it all back and adds a clunky river race minigame you can thankfully skip.

That said, I at least respect Al Lowe for having some fun with his series in contrast to Roberta "Toothlessly gluing popular fairly tales together make me a worldbuilder" Williams.

Samurai Jack Season 3 (TV DVD)

The star of the season is the "Birth of Evil" two-parter showing how Aku fell to Earth during a battle with three gods and slowly poisoned the world, the forging of Jack's sword, and the battle between Aku and Jack's father ending in Aku's imprisonment. It's a nice bit of lore and one of the more story-heavy episodes of the show, if some bleak shit for a children's cartoon.

Other memorable moments include Jack getting his ass utterly handed to him by a cross between Morpheus and the Hulk with the voice of Nick Fury, befriending a totoro and you kind of know how the episode's going to end but it still pulls off a big "holy shit" moment, and fighting an ink demon with sumi inspired artwork, which admittedly might be hard for people with epilepsy to watch. And bonus! No embarrassing farting dragon episode!

I do have two criticisms, though. First, and this has been a thing since the start, more thought could go into the writing. Aku is a shapshifter, but his forms keep his black, green, and red color scheme and Jack has been tricked once by him at least once, when he pretended to be a woman looking to free her imprisoned father. So can somebody tell me why, when Jack runs into a hermit with black skin, a green mouth, red eyebrows, and Aku's voice who sends him on a dangerous mission for three powerful relics while being an ass about it, he doesn't get at least a little suspicious? There's a difference between being overly trusting and lacking any pattern recognition. The episode could have subverted this by having the hermit just be a bastard who unfortunately looks like Aku, but that's not what happens.

Second, the show sometimes forgets where the line between "slow and deliberate" and "shamelessly padded" is. There's a bit in the totoro episode where the totoro playfully runs back and forth along a hedge way too many times. And there was another scene, might have still been the totoro episode, where Jack locks eyes with somebody and the show stops to spend way too long switching the camera between Jack and the other person.

I'll still take it over the farting dragon, though.


Luigi's Mansion (E, Gamecube)

Nintendo usually treats their Mario launch titles with more dignity than "glorified tech demo." Then we have Luigi's Mansion. There's a cute idea here about Luigi, the more cowardly Mario brother, being a cartoon Ghostbuster, but it's more interested in lighting effects and closeups of Luigi's hand fiddling with a doorknob.

As for what game is here, you shine your flashlight in the faces of cartoon ghosts to stun them then you hoover them up, or for the special, more powerful ghosts you need to solve a sort of puzzle to make them vulnerable. Most of the difficulty comes from the lack of camera controls and low angle making it hard to tell where things are in relation to each other, so you might be trying to vacuum a ghost to your right, except he's behind you and floating off the ground a bit. The Boolossus is the worst thing in the game as you're trying to shoot ice at boos that are God knows where in 3D space while other boos are blindsiding you from off screen. And it took me longer than it should have to beat King Boo because for whatever reason, whether I didn't have Luigi at the right angle or *quite* close enough to them, Luigi wasn't picking up the metal balls and I thought you had to do something else in the fight.

I mean, it's okay, I guess, but not surprising it took Nintendo thirteen years to come back to the franchise and make a respectable game with the idea (see below).


Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (E, 3DS)

Dark Moon had the potential to be superior to Luigi's Mansion in every way. It's prettier with better lighting and brighter colors, the bosses are more creative (okay, one can eat shit but I'll get to that in a moment), Luigi has expressions other than "baring his teeth like a baboon", and while the mission based structure can make the game feel a bit stop-and-start they at least make the gameplay loop more varied than sucking up a ghost that's minding its own business, getting a key, running to the other side of the mansion to unlock the door it goes to, repeat.

Come to think of it, I can pin almost all the problems on the hardware. The tiny shoulder buttons are not ideal for holding down to vacuum ghosts and the thin system* just makes it worse, leading to me releasing a ghost because my finger slipped off the button a couple of times. The lack of a second stick means you use two face buttons to control the flashlights and two to make Luigi aim up and down which is just confusing, and also that there's no way to turn Luigi while you're vacuuming or charging the flashlight so ghosts keep getting behind you, forcing you to release the charge, turn around, and hope you can charge and blind them before they move again. And the small screen makes it an even bigger pain in the ass than in the Gamecube game to tell where things are in relation to each other, especially when you have to vacuum up those little balls to reveal...

... wait, what system is this for again?

... oh... right... shit.

Yeah, to get any sense of depth here, you have to turn the 3D on, which leaves me wondering how playable this would be on a 2DS. And after playing for a while, I'd use the computer and the text would look like it was floating in front of the background.

* I have a silicon grip for the 3DS, and while it made the system a lot easier to hold, I kept accidentally pulling it off the shoulder buttons.

And even many of the design flaws can be blamed on Nintendo letting the 3DS' exotic functions trod on the gameplay. You have bits where Luigi has to walk across narrow beams and you have you tilt the system to keep him balanced, which is unresponsive if you're playing while lying in bed. The final boss has 2D sidescrolling phases where he chases you through a hallway full of obstacles and you have to turn the 3D on to find the gaps you can run between, and even then Luigi has a habit of getting stuck on the corners of shit. And the aforementioned "can eat shit" boss would be that ice face you chase through a tunnel on a sled. You have to blow off all the pieces of its ice shell before they reform or your sled overheats, but the turret can be controlled by both the analog stick and the 3DS' gyroscope. Lining up your bombs' bounce trajectories with its spin is enough of a pain, you don't need your ambient movements throwing off your aim.

And I guess to make up for the shrug that was Luigi's Mansion's ending, Dark Moon's ending is almost nauseatingly saccharine.